For the second time in its nearly three-year existence, the Family Travel Association is expanding its membership base.
It’s not uncommon for an association to introduce new membership categories to adapt to its changing industry. The Family Travel Association—which has existed for only three years—is adding a new category for travel agents to better connect the market segment it serves.
“Our goal as an association is to initiate programs that will ultimately help inspire and inform families about all the terrific things they can do together when vacationing,” FTA President and Founder Rainer Jenss said.
When the association launched, the membership consisted of suppliers like hotels, cruise lines, and destinations—with another category later created for travel media. The newest category was introduced when Jenss learned that travel agents also wanted a closer connection with family travelers.
“[I] came to the realization that they wanted a resource, that they wanted a home, and that we could provide that—especially given the fact that we were bringing in members from the supply side, which they are very interested in engaging with, working with, and creating relationships with,” he said.
Specifically, travel agents can fill the knowledge gap on vacation options for family travel, which makes up a third of all leisure travel. “Despite all this growth and the huge value of family travel, there are a lot of families who aren’t traveling,” Jenss said. “And if they are, they have very little information and knowledge about … what they can be doing beyond the Disney’s and the cruise lines and the all-inclusives.”
However, with the new membership category, FTA had to introduce a new benefits package that was relevant to travel agents. First, through outreach efforts, FTA will act as an advocate for travel agents to consumers, because currently only 15 percent of family travelers use agents. It will also accredit experienced and vetted travel agents, recommending which ones consumers should use. And for agents who desire accreditation, FTA will offer educational resources like training courses, specialized workshops, and webinars to get them the necessary experience.
Jenss suggests that associations, especially young ones, continue to be flexible and ready to adjust their membership base or plan if the industry requires it. FTA hadn’t originally planned to include a travel agent category, “but it’s become clear that they’re an important component to this industry and this segment,” he said. “Associations need to let themselves evolve.”
Because if you’re too focused on the association’s current identity or revenue streams, “you could not see what’s around you,” he continued. “And being open to and listening and really looking at the market veering into new directions or expanding into ways that make sense is really important, particularly when you’re young.”